The first time I ran a hill was unpleasant. It was a 15KM race and the route took us to McKinley. While I survived and finish at a respectable time, my knees and legs were aching for days.
I’m sure you have heard stories of how runners dread the hills when running. Routes like McKinley, Kalayaan Flyover, and Corregidor would scare you. Thus, most first-time hill runners dread tackling a steep incline and it is likely to lead to a negative experience.
Fortunately, hill running is an acquired skill and with some helpful tips on uphill running training and downhill running technique, beginners like you may soon look forward to hills during your runs.
Tips on Uphill Running
- Don’t attack the hill right away. Start with an easy warmup.
- Choose a path with appealing surroundings for a start.
- Take a gentle slope and jog slowly at each ascent.
- Slightly lean forward from your hips but avoid the tendency to slump.
- Keep your head up, shoulders relaxed and back straight and erect.
- Move your arms, which should be at 90 degrees angle, forward and backward rotating at the shoulder and not side to side.
- Run with a slightly higher knee lift and push off hard on steeper incline. Your vertical motion is as important as you run forward.
- Focus in your breathing rather than your pace. Keep your breathing effort the same as if you’re running on a flat ground.
- Maintain the same pace on hills as you do on flat ground.
- Take your time and do not exceed your training capacity level. Take note that speed is not the way forward for beginners.
- Cool down with a 15 minute jog on level or gently rolling ground.
- Avoid hill training when you are injured.
Tips on Downhill Running
- Run on soft surfaces like grass or chip trail.
- Lean forward slightly to get more speed. Do not lean back to brake yourself. It is the braking motion that causes more injuries when running downhill.
- Avoid taking huge leaping steps to reduce the pounding on your legs.
- Let gravity help you downhill.
- Do not lean too far forward because you will lose your balance and fall.
- Do not strike on your heels. Run on your toes instead.
- Run with shorter strides. Short strides are less stressful to your leg muscles.
- Do not rock your body from side to side or swing your arms or your legs out to the side.
- Watch out for hazards on hills.
- Jog slowly on each decent and lightly when you reach the bottom of the hill.
Conquering hills increases confidence, strength and stamina levels. Balance is also improved along with your ability to regulate breathing once you have incorporated those hill running programs.
Finally, adopt a gradual and staged approach to reap the uphill and downhill running benefits. You’ll learn to like the hills and enjoy a more positive experience.
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